Apple iPod touch: Review
Apple's iPod touch now has a sharper screen, HD video recording and front-facing camera for video calls.
The most striking thing about the new iPod touch is that it looks almost exactly like an old iPod touch, only thinner.
When you learn about the improvements packed into the fourth generation of what is now the bestseller of Apple’s iPod range, it’s hard not to be surprised.
The new iPod touch has an HD video camera, a second, front-facing, camera, a gyroscope for motion-sensing apps and the high-resolution Retina display like the one that graces the iPhone 4.
Did I mention that it’s thinner too? Now that the iPhone has switched to a chunkier, more industrial design, the iPod touch has the curved back form factor to itself.
It sits in the hand nicely and feels significantly lighter than the iPhone 4, though the difference is a mere 30 grams.
The iPod touch has often been described as an ‘iPhone without the phone’ - or an “iPhone without the contract” as Steve Jobs pointed out last week - but that’s less the case with this version.
FaceTime video calling, which uses the front-facing camera, means that an iPod touch is getting closer to being a phone too.
Admittedly, the calls work only to iPhone 4s or other iPod touches at the moment and require a wifi connection but this is a significant step forward.
As with the iPhone 4, the Retina display looks amazing. A 960-by-640 resolution on a device this size means pin-sharp visuals and since the iPhone 4 has been out for a few months now most apps have been updated to take advantage of it. Games, text and photos all look astonishingly sharp.
Games have been the runaway success of the iPod touch, with Apple now claiming that their handheld games device outsells those of Sony and Nintendo put together.
iOS 4.1, the latest version of Apple’s touchscreen operating system, brings Game Center to the iPod touch, adding achievements and social gaming.
The video shot by the phone looks wonderful on this screen too but the fact that it shoots in 1280-by-720 resolution at 30 frames-per-second means that it will also look good on your computer or your television.
The one area where Apple does seem to have skimped is with the stills camera. At less than a megapixel - 920-by-720 pixels - you won’t be making prints from these images.
It means that the iPod touch won’t be a portable casual camera as the five-megapixel iPhone 4 now is.
However, a better camera would certainly have added to the iPod touch’s bulk, not to mention its price, and that’s presumably a compromise that Apple didn’t want to make. They’re clearly banking on video being a better selling point.
Storage-wise, this year’s iPod touches match last year’s. There’s an entry-level 8GB model (€229), a 32GB model (€299) and a 64GB model (€399).
Apple says that customers aren’t really demanding more storage. The 64GB version should offer enough space for most of your music, video and app needs.
Anyone with a more demanding music collection is directed to the iPod Classic, still hanging on to its slot on the shelves.
Apple has made some significant upgrades to what was already, in my view, the best portable media player on the market. If you’ve held off buying one until now, don’t delay any longer.